Zambia: Hakainde Hichilema Arrested - Cops UPND Cadres Clash

UNRULY United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres yesterday turned Woodlands Police Station into a battle ground and severely injured an officer during the arrest of their leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Mr Hichilema was arrested for uttering a defamatory statement against President Michael Sata during a tour of Kalikiliki Market on Sunday.

The rampaging cadres, that accompanied Mr Hichilema, hit a police officer with a brick in the head.

He sustained a deep cut and bled profusely as the opposition leader pleaded with his supporters to be peaceful.

Police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela identified the injured officer as Adam Banda who sustained a deep cut in the head and was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Mr Hichilema was arrested for allegedly defaming the President, contrary to Section 66 of the Penal Code, Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia and was later released on a KR5,000 bond with two working sureties.

There was commotion at the Central Police Station when the cadres besieged the station as officers struggled to keep them at bay, while they hurled invectives at the law enforcement officers.

During his Kalikiliki Market tour, Mr Hichilema is believed to have accused President Sata of shielding Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba in the corruption case before the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Mr Hichilema was also reported to have passed derogatory remarks against the Head of State.

According to Ms Kanjela, Police arrested and charged Mr Hichilema for defamation.

"Yes I can confirm that we have arrested and charged Mr Hichilema. This is in connection with the words he made on January 13, this year, where he accused the President of defending Mr Kabimba at ACC, we believe the words were defamatory, he will appear in court this afternoon (yesterday)," Ms Kanjela said.

Ms Kanjela condemned the unruly behaviour of the cadres and said police had launched investigations into the assault of Mr Banda.

The opposition leader was blocked by his cadres upon arrival from entering the station for more than 30 minutes as they struggled with the police.

"I refuse to go upstairs to be interrogated from there because you want to teargas me and other people, this is how you want to kill innocent people," Mr Hichilema said while at the reception.

Police had to find an alternative office to conduct the interviews after the opposition leader claimed that he feared officers would tear-gas him.

After the interview, he was taken to Woodlands Police Station for the formal arrest, which was again characterised by confusion caused by the unruly cadres.

Later in the afternoon, Mr Hichilema appeared at the magistrate's court with his lawyers led by Sakwiba Sikota. He did not take plea but defence lawyers conferred with chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda.

Addressing journalists at the court, Mr Sikota said his client could not take plea because consultations were still going on with the Director of Public Prosecutions. The matter would come up for plea on Tuesday next week.

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